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Ergin Ataman: “They tell me that I will be an NBA assistant for a few years”

Ergin Ataman: “They tell me that I will be an NBA assistant for a few years”

Vasilije Micic, Ergin Ataman, same fate? While the Efes star preferred to turn his back on the NBA, in particular so as not to be reduced to a secondary role, his coach, who was nevertheless believed to have the intention of accepting an assistant position, seems to be taking the same path. .

I’m less likely to reach my goal of going to the NBA because I see the NBA as another world. No European coach has ever moved from Europe to the NBA as a head coach. There is no such story, zero “, notes the Turkish coach.

The latter takes the example of the Serbian Igor Kokoskov (naturalized American) who briefly had his chance for a season with the Suns in 2018-2019. ” But he went there 20 years ago, he settled down and worked as an assistant for years “Recalls his counterpart in reference to Kokoskov’s arrival in the league in 2000 which was followed by… 17 seasons (Clippers, Pistons, Suns…) assisting coaches.

Ergin Ataman also cites David Blatt, the Cavs coach when LeBron James returned to Cleveland. ” But Blatt is an American (note: and of Israeli nationality) after all “, notes the Turk. This one, yet double winner of the Euroleague, therefore has no illusions about the fate he would expect by making the leap to the league.

Inconclusive contacts

I had contact with a few teams this year. They always say you have to train here for a while first. Okay, I’m aware of that, but they always say, ‘The NBA is a player-centric league. Coaches are preponderant in Europe. We don’t think you can manage a team here.’ They don’t say it exactly like that, but you can feel it in their words “, reports the 56-year-old technician.

The Turkish coach, who is currently working with three representatives of the big league (Cedi Osman, Furkan Korkmaz and Alperen Sengun), would be honored to be the first European to be named “head coach” without going through an assistant role. But that doesn’t seem to be for today…

I always say I wouldn’t hesitate if an offer came from an NBA team, but they have no such intention. They just say, ‘You will be an assistant here for a few years.’ That’s what (Ettore) Messina did. He went to see (Gregg) Popovich and was an assistant for four or five years, but he didn’t get an offer. So frankly, I find it difficult. But if anyone wants, we can sit down and discuss it “, ends the coach.

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